Astros nudge Dodgers in battle of long ballsJul 26, 2007 - 6:40 AM By Ted Dunnam PA Sportsticker Contributing Writer
HOUSTON (Ticker) -- In a battle of long balls, the Houston Astros got one more than their opponent.
Carlos Lee crushed a solo home run in the seventh inning to break a 1-1 tie and lift the Houston Astros to a 2-1 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday.
Lee's blast - his 20th - came on a 2-0 pitch from Dodgers reliever D.J. Houlton (0-2) and came just moments after Los Angeles tied the game on Jeff Kent's 421-foot solo blast in the top of the inning. As they usually do, the Astros made Lee's homers stand up, as they moved to 13-4 in games where the cleanup hitter goes deep.
"This series was very tough," Lee said. "Like I was talking today to the coaches, they hadn't given me anything to hit.
"Especially in that situation (with the count), 2-0, I wasn't expecting (anything) up in the middle of the plate and I was lucky to make contact."
Eric Munson also hit a solo homer for the Astros, who won for just the seventh time in 47 contests in which they scored less than three runs.
Chad Qualls (6-3) picked up the win in relief while Houlton suffered his second loss in as many decisions. Reliever Dan Wheeler pitched a solid eighth before handing it over to closer Brad Lidge in the ninth, as he pitched a perfect ninth for his fifth save in eight chances.
"The pitching staff did a great job today," Lee said. "L.A.'s got a great offensive team. You look over across the field and there's nobody, I think, hitting below .280.
"You're looking at (James Loney and Matt Kemp, the seventh and eighth hitters in the batting order) hitting .360, and I'm like, 'Wow.' They got a well-balanced team. To hold them to one run, that was big."
Houston has consecutive games for the first time since a three-game run to begin July.
In a strange turn of events, both starting pitchers were out of the game by the end of the fifth inning despite allowing a combined one run.
Houston's Matt Albers permitted just three hits, struck out a career-high five and walked one in five innings, but left after 90 pitches after a nine-game foray in the Astros bullpen.
"I haven't started in a little over a month so I was nice and fresh," Albers said. "I just told myself to go ahead and relax and focus on pitches, not worry too much about results, just go out there and get after them. I was up at 90 (pitches) through five so I figured I was probably done."
Los Angeles starter Derek Lowe's stint came to an end after allowing a leadoff single to Jason Lane in the fifth and throwing one pitch to Munson with an apparent groin pull. The 11-year veteran also made the Dodgers' last out in the top of the fifth when he apparently singled, but was thrown out at first by right fielder Luke Scott.
After the game, a dejected Lowe addressed his injury, but a MRI Thursday will determine the extent of the injury. "I felt it a little warming up tonight," Lowe said. "I think I originally hurt it warming up in the bullpen two or three days ago. It was probably my own fault for not stretching enough. But Grady (Little) asked me if I wanted to go and I said, 'Yeah, I'll give it a try.'
"I've never been through anything like this before. It's just like a sharp pain and then it goes away. Nothing I do, activity-wise, hurts it except throwing."
Asked if getting thrown out at first was "the last straw," Lowe managed to find humor in the situation.
"It was a straw (but) not the last straw," Lowe said. "It was an embarrassing straw. I guess I'll get the MRI tomorrow; that's always fun."
Dodgers manager Grady Little knows he cannot afford to have Lowe sidelined for an extended period.
"He felt a little sting in his groin warming up before the game," Little said. "Then he taxed it running to first. When he went out to pitch in the fifth, we just didn't want to take any chances at that point. Losing (Lowe) would be a big blow. We just hope it's not anything serious."
When pulled from the game, an obviously upset Lowe threw his glove after entering the dugout. Lowe allowed just four hits and struck out three before yielding to Houlton.
Kent's homer was his second in two days against Houston and extended his torrid hitting month, as he is batting .418 (28-for-67) in July. With two hits, the five-time All-Star extended his on-base to 36 games, the longest such streak in the majors this season.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
- - - - - - - - - - - -
LA DODGERS 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 6 0
HOUSTON 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 x 2 6 0 (FINAL)
BATTERIES: LOS - DEREK LOWE, D.J. HOULTON (5TH), JOE BEIMEL (7TH), ROBERTO
HERNANDEZ (8TH) AND RUSSELL MARTIN
HOU - MATT ALBERS, DAVE BORKOWSKI (6TH), CHAD QUALLS
Jul 25 10:36 PM
AT HOUSTON - SCORING UPDATE
SOLO HOME RUN BY CARLOS LEE (20) TO LEFT WITH 0 OUT IN THE
7TH OFF D.J. HOULTON.
CURRENT SCORE: LA DODGERS 1, HOUSTON 2
DUE UP FOR HOUSTON: M LAMB (.307, 1-FOR-2)
Dodgers vs. AstrosJul 25 10:03 PM
AT HOUSTON - SCORING UPDATE
SOLO HOME RUN BY JEFF KENT (15) TO LEFT WITH 0 OUT IN THE
7TH OFF CHAD QUALLS.
CURRENT SCORE: LA DODGERS 1, HOUSTON 1
DUE UP FOR LA DODGERS: L GONZALEZ (.290, 0-FOR-2)
Dodgers vs. AstrosJul 25 9:55 PM
AT HOUSTON - SCORING UPDATE
SOLO HOME RUN BY ERIC MUNSON (3) TO RIGHT WITH 1 OUT IN THE
3RD OFF DEREK LOWE.
CURRENT SCORE: LA DODGERS 0, HOUSTON 1
DUE UP FOR HOUSTON: M ALBERS (.222, 0 HR, 0 RBI)
Dodgers vs. AstrosJul 25 8:47 PM
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